Simon Yates laid down a marker ahead of the Giro d’Italia by claiming General Classification victory at the Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Geraint Thomas.
Having held a 16-second lead over Rafal Majka going into the final stage – a 10.1km time trial – 2018 Vuelta a Espana champion Yates fought his way across the line to finish 17 seconds clear of Thomas overall, with Majka dropping to third 29 seconds back.
“I am really happy, it’s my only stage race win outside the Vuelta and I’m just happy I could finish off the job of the team who did a fantastic job all week and today it was up to me," said Yates.
Highlights: Simon Yates beats Geraint Thomas to overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico
“I had time gap updates, but I was still going full gas. You never know until the last moment so I just tried to go to the maximum possible and I’m happy I could pull it off.
“I was really happy with the stage win, but to take the overall is really fantastic. I lost Tour de Romandie in a final time trial, so I really didn’t want to do the same again today so it was just full gas.”
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Chris Froome posted a time of 12' 15" in the ITT, with the Briton finishing 91st overall as he continues his comeback from injury and build-up to his final Grand Tour as a Team Ineos rider at the Vuelta next month.
For Yates and Thomas meanwhile, their battle will recommence at the Giro, which starts on October 3.
It was ultimately a solo Stage 5 victory on Friday which handed Yates the victory, having completed that summit finish at Sassotetto 35 seconds clear of Thomas and Majka to jump from seventh to first in the GC.
Filippo Ganna set the early benchmark with a time of 10’ 42” for the ITT, and that had not been bettered by the time Thomas, Majka and Yates finally got going in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Thomas posted 11’ 10” for the stage, enough for fourth on the day and second overall after Majka’s crossed the line in 11’ 45” shortly after.
Yates simply had to reach the finish line without allowing Thomas to overhaul the 39-second deficit, and the Briton did enough to clinch his first GC win in two years.
There was also a top-10 finish for British rider James Knox (Deceuninck–Quick-Step), who claimed seventh with a time that was 1' 41" behind Yates’ overall 32h 7’ 34”.